I refer to the article on how women in Singapore are less satisfied with their marriages during and after circuit breaker (Straits Times, 26 May).
This corroborates with our own poll this year of 619 husbands and wives in Singapore, with wives scoring an average of 10.78 on the Couple Satisfaction Index in comparison with a score of 13.08 for husbands. Wives find their marriage less rewarding than husbands, and 47.5% rated that they were not happy with the relationship with their spouse (Focus on the Family Singapore, 2021).
The reality is that marriage is never easy, in every season and weather. COVID tensions will naturally strain family relationships, and this can give rise to an increase in help-seeking behaviour. But this is not necessarily bad, as it shows that couples are willing to work on their marriage and are finding ways to strengthen their relationship.
We agree that the greater marital dissatisfaction wives face during COVID is likely contributed by increased demands on child caregiving responsibilities and household management given WFH and HBL, as they were cited among the top 3 concerns of mums during the Circuit Breaker alongside their family’s health and safety (Focus on the Family Singapore, 2020).
However, 43% of dads report more or less equal child caregiving responsibilities with their spouse, as compared to 28% of mums (Focus on the Family Singapore, 2020). This suggests that men may perceive “equality” at home differently from women, and highlights an opportunity for husbands and wives to have honest and healthy conversations to clarify their expectations of their roles and calibrate the sharing of responsibilities.
It is important, especially during uncertainty and change, that husbands and wives continue to communicate their needs and wants to each other. Our survey of 596 married individuals during the Circuit Breaker in 2020 found that 4 in 10 described conversations with their spouse as lacking or cold (Focus on the Family Singapore, 2020). This is concerning, since both fathers and mothers who identify their spouse as their main source of emotional support reported significantly lower stress.
Family members must be able to turn to each other for support. There were some positive changes to family dynamics as a result of COVID – 73% of dads reported increased involvement with family and 85% connected more with their children (Focus on the Family Singapore, 2020).
COVID may have placed our family relationships under the spotlight, but it is an opportunity to seal the cracks that have been exposed and strengthen our bonds through crisis.
Elisa Ng (Ms), Head of Research and Development
Focus on the Family Singapore
Focus on the Family Singapore (2020). Re:Connect Quiz. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/focusonthefamily.sg/photos/pcb.10158759084238213/10158759083278213
Focus on the Family Singapore (2020). Research Brief: Survey for Dads 2020. Retrieved from https://family.org.sg/fotfs/downloads/fd/dadssurvey2020_researchbrief_short.pdf
Focus on the Family Singapore (2020). Research Brief: Survey for Mums 2020. Retrieved from https://family.org.sg/fotfs/downloads/md20/mumssurvey2020_researchbrief_short.pdf
Focus on the Family Singapore (2021). What’s the Weather in Your Marriage Quiz. To be published.
© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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